A Celestial Suncatcher
Monarch Monday

A Fall "File Crate" Check-In


Happy Columbus Day, my friends! (And Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers!) What a gorgeous weekend it's been up here in New England! Quite warm (like, 80s warm!) and so sunny ... the foliage is turning and falling and filling the up the yard and lining the street ... And that autumn light that glimmers and fades and slants so low at this time of year? I just love it! :)

So, here we are about halfway through October ... we've been "back to school" for over a month, and our new schedule is starting to feel familiar, if not quite yet routine. How are your organizational systems working for you this fall? Are you trying something new or sticking with what works, or has worked well before? I thought I'd take some time to talk about how my own "systems" are working for me ... you won't be surprised to hear I've tweaked a few things over the past few months. ;)

First of all, The File Crate ...


... is still housed in the cabinet below the kitchen island. Yes, it's a bit out of the way, but since I keep the current file folder out on my workspace, it's not so big a deal. It's easy enough to pull the crate out and file something away when I need ...

At times I'm tempted to find a pretty basket crate that I could keep out on a table or even on the floor beneath the console table - but for now this works for me. Plus, I think of how long and hard Bill worked to install this FCS roller cage and I resolve myself to be happy with this particular arrangement. ;)

And this reminds me, several months ago a reader asked about how to manage the FCS when traveling for long periods of time (as in, a summer spent away from home). In this situation, I would suggest getting one of those portable file boxes (the ones that hold up to 12 or so folders, close tightly and have a handle). I'd take only the folders I'd need for the weeks I'm away, and leave a space at the back of the box to hold future information. Then when I return home, I'd just file those future items into their appropriate folders. I think this would work, though I can't be sure - I've never traveled very far with my folders. In fact, my longest trip to date was our Disney Adventure this past May, and I just left the file folders home. I did take my planner, of course. ;)

The Main Ingredients:


Shown above are the main components of my planning system. From left to right: my homekeeping binder, this week's file folder with planning sheet attached, the notebook in which I store those weekly planning sheets, and my personal planner.

Now, I don't normally keep these things here on this table, it's just where the light was best when I started taking pictures! Where I do keep these items (along with a few other things) is up on the kitchen island, spread out where I like to "work."


As shown in previous posts, I had been storing the binder in the file crate (in the cabinet below), but I found I hardly ever used it - let alone looked at it - anymore! Since I've removed the monthly calendar from the binder, I don't use it as "daily" as I used to, but there is still much timely information stored inside. (Current projects, seasonal ideas, sports schedules, etc.)

The weekly file folder is laid out on top with all the papers (reminders, etc.) I need for this week tucked inside. Also kept out in the open is my monthly personal planner. This might look new to some longtime readers - and it is "new" in the sense I haven't posted about it before, but I've been using it consistently since the beginning of August and I'm very happy with it!

You might remember me posting about the large, two-page, month-at-a-glance calendar pages I used in my homekeeping binder. I've used these pages on and off for many years - and I come back to them so often because I absolutely love them. They're just about perfect - in look, feel and function - but what they are not perfect in, unfortunately, is size. While I relished the ample writing space, I didn't love having to lug the whole big binder with me when I went out; I also didn't like using a "satellite" purse-size planner in its place. (Keeping two calendars "synced up" was time consuming and sloppy - things would very easily slip through the cracks.)

I'd been struggling with this issue - looking around at alternatives, trying to make do - and I finally determined I would simply make my own planner. (By gum, I'd done it before, and I could do it again, lol!) I had even created a template - added seasonal bits and bobs, started shopping for pretty paper - but you know how it goes. Time kept getting away from me and the planner "prototype" ended up sitting halfway done on my shelf.

Anyhoo, I happened to be at Staples one day in late July, helping Bookworm pick out a student planner, when these very pretty, very PINK planners caught my eye. Now, pink is not usually my color - but these planners were just so pretty I had to take a closer peek! (And truth be told, I am very weak when it comes to office supplies in general - but calendars in particular - at this time of year.)

The New Planner

So this planner is made by a company called momAgenda and the whole design, as you can see, is very feminine and appealing. Soft pastel pages, delicate fonts ...



I really liked its size - perfectly totable - and the lay-flat, spiral-binding. The paper felt great, too - light and smooth (paper nuts like me know what I mean by that) - but what sold me was the overall set up.

All the month-@-a-glance calendars are up front (through December 2012):


They're very similar to those big pages I had in my binder - wide blocks, light lines - and just look how pretty! I don't like a lot of clutter in my calendars - decor and whatnot. This understated soft blue and brown is very tidy and eye-appealing.

The weekly pages are great too:


I know this doesn't give you a close look, but basically, it's a two-page per week spread, with seven columns (again, lightly lined). The columns are broken up with an agenda area at the top and several blocks stacked below for additional notes. The momAgenda suggests using these for each family member's schedule, written out below your own personal schedule - but I like keeping all family activities in one place. (Since we home educate, most of our activities are overlapping if not all-encompassing.) So instead, I use these lines for specific daily to-do's - i.e. "Defrost ground chicken." - or - "Bring approval letter to Barnes & Noble on Saturday." (It's Educator Appreciation Week and I need to update my card.)

As I said, I've been using this planner for over two months now and it's really working well for me. I use it in combination with the weekly planning sheet stapled to the front of my file folder (seen at right, below).

The File Folder:


This is perhaps my favorite part of my entire planning "system" if only because it has worked so well, for so long. I know I've harped on said it before, but honestly, I've used the file folder system for YEARS and it has always worked so well for me! I've done many, many posts on just what kinds of things go inside these folders (aka, how I use them) so I won't go into all that now, but suffice it to say, they truly help me keep a handle on our household management.

Now, simply put, the weekly planning sheets are a place for working out the week ahead. Here is where I write out dinner menus, mark days of note, list my to-do's and housekeeping tasks and brainstorm any "learning & living" ideas. I still hand-write my pages - mostly because I just like it that way - but someday I may make up a computerized version, something I can just print out (and share). For now, I keep all my planning pages in one place, the floral notebook seen above (to the left of the pink planner). As a week approaches I tear the page out and attach it to the file folder for that week. (Note: I used to keep these planning pages in the homekeeping binder as well - I found it more convenient to keep them more accessible, yet still all in one place.)

The Rest of the Stuff:


Up on my counter I keep a couple of baskets that hold the rest of my planning/puttering paraphernalia. On the right is where I keep my clippings journal and at left is the basket in which I keep my coupons, shopping notebook, bills, receipts/stubs and address book. It's all out in the open, so one could say it looks a bit messy, but I don't mind a little bit of clutter when it's contained in such a pretty, colorful way. :)

And while I'm at it, here is how we're storing the homeschool curriculum this year ...

The Boys' Book Crates:


We finally outgrew the LL Bean tote bags and have now graduated to large wooden crates. The boys each have their own crate (designated by the monogram), and at present, the crates are parked on top of a bench in the dining room. As the boys do most of their work at the kitchen island and/or the dining room table, the crates are convenient to both of these work spaces.

So, there you have it! A little (or long, lol) check-in with my current mode of organizing these days! I hope it was interesting to read through - I know I tend to ramble on - and if you have any questions please do leave me a note. I will try to get back to you as soon as I can. :)

In the meantime, I hope you all have a great Monday - what a nice start to the week! We're not taking this day off -  because even though the school kids are off, Bill is not - so it will be "standard operating procedure" around here. First up - watching a beautiful Monarch butterfly hopefully come to life on our deck today. She landed there yesterday and became quite still in the late day shade. She's still in the same place this morning, her delicate wings glittering with dew. I'm not sure if she's dead or just in some kind of stasis. We'll be keeping a close eye and of course, taking lots of pictures. This is autumn nature study in action, my friends!

Have a good one, and many blessings to you all ... I'll be back again very soon!